As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
Tim Stewart has been the guide of the Spanish paralympian Martin Parejo, in Rio 2016. He explains how his faith helped him overcome the disappointment of not reaching the expected results.
The Rio Paralympics finished three weeks ago. We have seen impressive athletes and images that summarise the essence of the Olympic spirit. Tim Stewart, a Spanish young Physical Education teacher, traveled with one of the Spanish athletes, Martin Parejo.
"I met Martin in high school when we shared some clases. He needed a guide and when he heard how I run, he thought we could match. This was 4 years ago and we have trained much since then", he explains.
Tim has a degree in Science of Physical Activity and Sport and now works as a teacher with primary and secondary school students in a bilingual school near Barcelona.
Just a week ago, Tim married his fiancee, Loida. In the midst of so many experiences, he explained how their faith in God has marked everything he has experienced in recent months.
Question. How do you ended up going to Rio to the Paralympics?
Answer. It all started after the London Games 2012, when Martin Parejo, a visually impaired athlete, proposed me to be his guide. At the begining, my coordination with Martin was hard, but the months went by and I could start systematizing each action, so that I no longer had to think about where to put my arm, reaching the floor at the same time, or cut my stride.
Our first World Cup was in Lyon (France). One year later, we compete in the European championship in Swansea (Wales). Last year we participated in the in Doha (Qatar) and one month ago we were about to run in Rio.
Throughout these four years of sacrifice and effort we had improved a lot. We reached the sixth position in the 100m at the Doha World Series. Expectations were high for the Paralympics.
Q. How was the experience of being at the Games?
A. The experience of being in the Paralympics has been spectacular. Beyond the sports, the investment is enormous. The facilities are impressive and as athletes, we have everything we can imagine.
The inauguration was amazing, it was all perfectly designed to make the night unforgettable. But personally, what I really highlight of my experience in Rio is being able to compete, to be in the track, knowing that after four years of investment everything wil be decided in 11 seconds.
Q. How was you competition, in which categories did you participate?
A. Martin´s first participation was in the long jump. As a guide, I only have to take him to the starting place, the coach has to call him from the pit, so that the athelete goes to the voice at full speed. This first test did not turn out as we expected.
Martin had been jumping enough to finish in the top five, but although he tried his best, his jumps were not as expected.
Two days later we competed in the 100 meter race and, although we had the best start of the series, we were out of the final, once again. It was ot what we expected.
Finally, we competed in the 4x100 relay, hoping to even get a medal. We did the first post and pass the baton smoothly, everything was fine until our companions, who ran in the third post, fell while trying to receive the witness. The truth is that Martin and I were quite disappointed.
Q. How did you feel after not achieving what you expected?
A. I even wonder why God had led me to the Games. There had been 4 years of sacrifice, and even more: I had left my fiancee in Spain for three weeks, with whom I was going to get married a week after being back.
P. Even so, do you think God was present in everything you lived with Martin in Rio?
A. I think I understood something else, that God has His intentions. When things do not go as we expected our response should be to put our eyes on Jesus and trust that He has His purpose.
I had not won any medal, but what if God did not want me to win? What if God wanted me to learn to lose?
Pondering this, I realized that our lives will bring us more defeats than victories. It is so good to learn how to raise your head when we fail, when the objectives are not achieved, and to look at Jesus. It is so good to know that our strength is in the Lord. Perhaps with this He was training me.
Later I began to realize that I had done my job. We had not won, but we had not lost either. I had been able to witness to Martin and several athletes from the federation for 4 years. I had guided my athlete, I had given my 100% and had run the race. Jast fulfilling the purpose God had for me, I had to feel not only satisfied but privileged.
After returning home and got married, Tim shares this text of the Bible: "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands " Psalms 138:8.